Pneumococcal bacteria can cause a nasty pneumonia, among other conditions. This pneumonia is especially dangerous in older individuals. There are vaccines available which can greatly reduce the chances of getting sick from pneumococcus.

This vaccine called Pneumovax, is indicated for all adults older than 65 and those with certain conditions such as asthma, emphysema and cancer. The vaccine is very safe and reasonably effective.

A second vaccine against this bacteria is available and should be given as well. The reason that a second vaccine is necessary is that the second vaccine covers strains not in the first one. The vaccines cannot be given at the same time. Ideally, there should be about two months between the vaccines.

You should know that these vaccines only prevent one kind of pneumonia, that is pneumonia from pneumococcus. There are many, many other kinds of pneumonia, some common others not. And of course there is pneumonia caused by influenza or the flu. This type of pneumonia is usually much more serious.

Bottom line is that to reduce your risk of getting this common pneumonia, if you fit one of the groups above, (especially if you are older than 65) ask your medical provider about getting the vaccine against pneumococcal pneumonia.